National Geographic : 1961 Oct
KODACHROME(e NATIONALbtEOGAPn Reclining figure of a Chac Mool, or "red jaguar," a disk, perhaps for the hearts of sacrificial victims. drawn up, head turned, he guards the portal to the ' of the Warriors at Chich6n Itza. Twin columns ho city's patron deity, Kukulcan, the Feathered Serpent. sal heads with fangs exposed lie on the ground; lin bodies stand upright, and feathered tails project f like those of scorpions about to sting. With my underwater flashlight, I couldn't see beyond my arm. Hearing only my own breathing, I moved hand over hand, follow ing a line down 40 feet to the rock anchor. By touch, I established the shapes of fallen boulders and twisted, waterlogged trees. As mud churned up from the bottom, my light became useless. Our exploratory dives familiarized us with the underwater contour of the cenote and the 556 location of some of Thompson's dredging sites. It was time for the air lift. All hands lowered a larger raft into the cenote. Floated on steel drums, it had a hole in the center for the lift's large pipe. Around the base of the pipe we stretched our sieve -a conical framework of screen wire to strain artifacts from the fountain of water that would soon emerge from the tube. Old News Is Good News During off-duty moments, Gen aro talked with the visitors. One was an old man with strong Maya features. He wore typical rope sandals and knee breeches. "I worked here when Sefior Thompson dredged," he said nerv ously in Maya. He had walked 12 miles just to see us. "Thompson put his machine right there." He pointed near the temple. This news particularly pleased Norman Scott, for it confirmed that we were working in an area where Thompson had not dredged. Our archeologists began to study the air-lifted treasures. The rubber effigy, kept temporarily in a tub of water, especially in terested them. Its limbs were twisted in the style of a leaping e dancer, and it wore sandals and headdress. Chemists later identi ic SOCIETY fled the material as true latex. cradles Soon more divers arrived: Knees Professor Fernando Euan, a vet Temple eran from the Dzibilchaltun ex nor the pedition; Hernan Gutierrez; engi Colos- neer Carlo Durand; and Alfonso nestone Arnold. orward Murkiness plagued us all. Time and again I tried to take under water photographs of the explo rations, but the muddy water obscured everything. All attempts failed. Nevertheless, discoveries continued as the air lift struck new, rich layers of mud. Every day, dozens of artifacts spewed onto our con ical screen: beads of all sorts and styles, pieces of polished jade, potsherds, and copal (pages 548-9 and 560). Sometimes the copal was still pressed into ceramic incense burners. Our first wooden figure - probably Toltec -emerged after the first month (page 554).